The lead investigating officer in Oscar Pistorius’ shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is facing seven counts of attempted murder, police confirmed on Thursday.
The case relate to an incident in 2009 when detective Hilton Botha fired on a minibus with seven occupants in an attempt to stop the vehicle, SABC radio reported.
“I do not know the exact circumstances of what happened then, but I know the officers asked the minibus to stop, the minibus didn’t want to stop and ultimately the officers fired some shots,” Brigadier Neville Malila said. The minibus was being pursued as part of a murder investigation.
Botha has alleged that the charges are a conspiracy against him because of his key role in the high profile case. However, National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Bulelwa Makeke said the attempted murder counts were lodged against the detective more than a week before Steenkamp was killed.
Analysts said the fresh information should not directly affect the bail hearing, which could conclude in the afternoon.
Police said they were only informed on Wednesday by the director of public prosecutions that Mr. Botha was facing the charges. Botha faced a tough cross-examination by Pistorius’ defence lawyer on Wednesday, at one point agreeing that there was no direct evidence to counter the athlete’s claim of shooting his girlfriend by mistake in the middle of the night on February 13.
The testimony was overall seen as a blow to the prosecution, which is pressing for premeditated murder charges against Pistorius.
Oscar Pistorius was in court on Thursday for his bail hearing.